Brightly colored seating, puppets, and Chromebooks are just a few resources available in the new “model classroom” at Cairn University. A dedicated space for students in Cairn’s School of Education, the model classroom simulates the authentic environments and resources found in elementary and secondary schools. Future teachers can experiment with flexible seating arrangements, create bulletin boards, and utilize educational technologies.
“We’re putting students as much as possible into an authentic context,” says Dr. Dianne Alexander, professor and program advisor for Early Childhood and Elementary Education (PK–4). “They get to see how everything they’re learning fits together before they’re out there in a real classroom.” The new space offers a variety of resources for education majors, including a SMART Board, desktop computers, Chromebooks, a die cutting machine, and a laminator. A new video recording system allows students to rewatch their own practice lessons, providing valuable opportunities for self-critique. Whether watching professors model teaching methods or putting lesson material into practice themselves through peer teaching, Education majors will now have the ultimate professional preparation: what it feels like to be in a real K–12 classroom every day.
“A model classroom enables Education majors to envision practice to a much higher degree,” says Alexander. “When I’m talking about guided reading groups, I can have a bulletin board in the back that’s divided into three columns, so students can see how to identify genre and characters for three different books at different reading levels. We can have different reading response sheets available for language arts and manipulatives for mathematics. We have a worktable and supply closet, fully equipped with construction paper, markers, and a laminator, so students can create interactive bulletin boards.” An authentic, flexible, and wellresourced model classroom gives Cairn education majors a head start as they prepare to enter classrooms in the US and around the world. “The new space allows us to teach in context,” Alexander said. “It’s immersive, just like learning a language in context is immersive. Instead of standing up front and just lecturing about educational theory and methods, we’re immersing them in education.”